More than 100 people got a last look Monday at the Ada County Highway District’s plans for the one-mile stretch of Cole Road between Interstate 84 and Franklin Road — a stretch the district will be working on for the next 10 months.
Attendees at an open house the district held expressed a mixture of hope and concern. They hope the project, when it’s finished, will make driving and walking in the area safer. Matt Jones, facilities manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple on the west side of Cole road just north of the freeway, said he’s glad the new alignment won’t allow left turns out of the temple and on to northbound Cole.
Others said the project is long overdue on a narrow stretch of one of Boise’s main arterials. Some worried about access to and from their businesses.
Staci Nagel, co-owner of Intermountain Design, a company southwest of Cole and Franklin that furnishes offices, said she’s worried about delivery trucks finding their way out of her business and on to westbound Franklin.
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Today, drivers can turn left on Franklin from Auto Drive, a short road between Cole and the I-184 Connector off ramp. That maneuver won’t be possible when the project is done. The revamp will include a reworking of the Cole-Franklin intersection with a median down the center of Franklin. The district’s plan would allow U-turns on Franklin, but Nagel doesn’t think there’ll be enough room for trucks. So drivers will have to use Gratz Drive, which will have a traffic signal, to turn left onto Cole, and then turn left again onto Franklin.
Danielle Dore, owner of The Chef’s Hut, a restaurant southeast of the Cole-Franklin intersection, said access for her business should be better once the project is done.
“It’s going to be inconvenient for the next 10 months,” Dore said. “Ten months of slower business can sometimes make or break a place.”
The district plans to begin lane closures Wednesday, Nov. 14. Construction will continue through mid-September 2019.
The $6 million project will widen Cole from three lanes to five and add medians in several places, such as in front of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple, highway district designs show. Curbs, gutters, sidewalks and bike lanes will be added, too. The Cole-Franklin Road intersection will be widened.
The work is likely to clog traffic on an increasingly popular route — the only stretch of Cole between Victory and Ustick roads with fewer than four lanes. The road’s east side is expected to close first, and then the west side, ACHD Project Manager Ryan Cutler told the Idaho Statesman in late October. Occasionally, full closures could be necessary, Cutler said, though ACHD will try to ensure they happen at night.
More than 20,000 vehicles drive the I-84-to-Franklin stretch on an average day, according to ACHD counts. That’s similar to parts of other Boise arterials like Curtis Road, Franklin and Milwaukee Street. The district expects traffic to grow to 32,000 trips per day by 2040.
To make room for the project, the highway district has demolished nine houses on the east side of Cole, north of Ashland Drive.
Veterans Parkway work to end
Meanwhile, the district is working through several more big projects and dozens of small ones around the county.
One of the biggest, an $8 million overhaul of the intersection at State Street and Veterans Memorial Parkway in Boise, is scheduled to wrap up next week. The district plans to turn on the new traffic signal the night of next Tuesday, Nov. 13, spokeswoman Nicole Du Bois said in an email Tuesday.
You can check ACHD’s interactive map of current projects to see their status and how roadwork may affect your driving. Meanwhile, here is a recap of five other big projects scheduled on major Ada County roads between now and the end of next year:
The highway district has long planned to widen the section of Cloverdale Road that crosses Interstate 84. But it wasn’t at the top of the priority list until June, when a semi truck rear-ended an SUV that was stopped on I-84 for construction near the Cloverdale overpass, killing four and causing vehicles to burst into flames.
The Idaho Transportation Department, which owns the overpass, found that the fire damaged it badly enough that it must be rebuilt.
Since Cloverdale was scheduled for eventual widening anyway, the ITD board approved replacing the damaged two-lane overpass with a four-lane bridge. That decision pushed the highway district’s board to move up the timeline for expanding the stretches of Cloverdale that approach the overpass from the north and south.
Cost: $8 million for ITD’s overpass. At least $3 million to widen the road.
2. More Cloverdale
Cloverdale Road is likely to become a major north-south arterial in West Boise. The highway district plans to widen Cloverdale to five lanes — two in each direction, with a center turn lane — next year for the two miles from Ustick Road to Chinden Boulevard.
This will give Cloverdale five lanes for the five miles from Overland Road north to Chinden.
Next year’s project will include bike lanes, curbs, gutters and sidewalks on the Ustick-to-Chinden stretch. The plan calls for buffered bike lanes, which are separated from traffic by either painted or physical barriers like curbs, on the northern half
between McMillan Road and Chinden, and a traffic light at Edna Street, halfway between Ustick and McMillan.
Cost: $5.5 million
3. Linder Road
Once surrounded by farm fields, the two-lane Linder Road has evolved into a busy north-south corridor for Northwest Meridian’s new neighborhoods of single-family homes. The highway district wants to add a center turn lane to the one-mile stretch from Ustick north to McMillan, as well as bike lanes, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and a signalized pedestrian crossing at Monument Street, a third of a mile south of McMillan.
Cost: $2.4 million
4. Overland walkers
The district plans to install sidewalks, curbs and gutters on Overland Road between Columbus Street and Federal Way — about three-quarters of a mile — in Boise’s Vista and Depot Bench neighborhoods.
This stretch of road also will get bike lanes when it’s resurfaced in a future year.
Cost: $1.2 million
5. The next State Street project
Over the next decade or so, the highway district is remaking State Street between Glenwood Street and 23rd Street. This year’s Veterans Memorial Parkway intersection reconstruction is
the first phase.
The Collister project is next. The district plans to widen State Street to seven lanes between Lake Harbor and Wylie lanes. It also wants to re-align the south end of Collister Road so that it runs west of Terry’s State Street Saloon instead of on the bar’s east side. That change will make Collister meet State at roughly a 90-degree angle, not the 50-degree angle it has now.
Engineers say that will increase safety.
Cost: $10 million (including $8.9 million from the Federal Highway Administration).
For more information, visit the highway district’s website, achdidaho.org.